Two men told a jury Wednesday they watched a Sound Beach man drink beer and shots at a Rocky Point bar shortly before he hit and killed a woman they were with — but they waited almost two years to tell police what they knew.
The men were with Tracy Mangino, 40, before she left drunk to walk home from the bar, Napper Tandy’s, and was hit by a truck driven by her neighbor Christopher Campbell, 37, the night of Oct. 18, 2014.
He is on trial in Central Islip, charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other crimes. He initially was charged only with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, until prosecutors filed the other charges last year, based largely on what witnesses said they saw at the bar.
Robert Russo Jr. of East Setauket testified he and his girlfriend picked up Mangino and her boyfriend, Phillip Suchocki, at one bar and took them to Napper Tandy’s. Russo, during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp, said he noticed Campbell at the bar with a woman Russo used to date.
“I’m a little intrigued, so I kept looking over,” Russo said. He said he saw Campbell had ordered beers and shots of liquor.
Suchocki later testified he saw the same thing. Eventually, he said he and Mangino argued and she walked out of the bar.
Defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge suggested that Russo had trouble remembering that night or much of anything because of his drinking. Russo said he had about six beers.
When Keahon asked Russo when he met with a detective on the case, he was only sure that it was in 2016.
“It would probably fry my brain out” to remember the date, Russo said.
“That’s not too hard, right?” Keahon asked.
“Stop, stop,” state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho told them both.
As Keahon’s cross-examination continued, Russo rolled his eyes and fidgeted on the witness stand. At one point, Russo told the lawyer: “I got nothing to hide right now. Bring it on!”
Keahon paused and asked, “Are you on drugs right now?”
“Stop!” Camacho said. “We’re not doing this in this courtroom.”
Russo struggled to explain why he waited so long to tell police he saw Campbell drinking. “I’m not a fan of the police department, that’s why,” he said.
Suchocki offered no explanation why he didn’t immediately tell police what he says he saw.